Jerome John Garcia (“Jerry”) died 17 years ago today. For me, and for throngs of Jerry fans everywhere, it is a sad day. August 9 will always carry with it a somber note, a tinge of the blues evocative of some of Jerry’s more melancholy tunes, like Morning Dew or Stella Blue.
For those that don’t like Jerry/The Grateful Dead or understand the appeal, I can only offer one possible line of debate. When you turn on the radio, depending on the station, you hear the same songs over and over again. And what’s worse, generally speaking, you hear the same boring version of said song. Top 40 is the worst offender, bordering on criminal (how many times can you listen to the same friggin’ Adele, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj or Cold Play song?), but all genres have a standard cue of 50 to 100 songs that their affiliated stations play non-stop, on a virtual continuous loop.
The Grateful Dead offer a song catalog of nearly 700 songs. This doesn’t even include the songs side project bands such as the Jerry Garcia Band (JGB) add to the mix. Furthermore, because the Dead are a touring band that played more than 2,300 shows, pretty much every song in that catalog has many versions.
So Sirius/XM radio station 23 is incredible because they play the full archives of a band that amassed the thickest songbook in the industry. Even though you are wont to hear Sugar Magnolia, Playin’ In the Band, Truckin’ or Jack Straw (among others) quite often, chances are, each time you hear the song in a given month, or even year, it will be a unique version of the song. How you like me now Ryan Seacrest?
And Jerry and his bands were intriguing A) because they played great music; and, B) because you never knew what they would play when you saw them live due to their vast catalog and fearless approach to both writing original songs and covering artists across all genres of music.
A few notes:
Jerry played nearly 3,200 live shows over the course of his lifetime as part of 12 separate entities. Not one of these live shows ever fell on August 9. This is amazing considering the date had no real relevance to Jerry (though it certainly does now to his fans, family and friends) and that he played enough to have just about crammed 9 different shows into every date. So not only is August 9 a terrible day in Grateful Dead history for the obvious reason, but also was a rare date that never had any positive Dead “spin.” And keep in mind that attending even the worst Dead (or JGB) show was better than pretty much anything else you could have done on any particular day.
If you want to troll the net to prove my claim wrong, you may come across two separate shows Jerry may have played, one on August 9, 1969 as part of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and the other on August 9, 1974 with Merl Saunders. Please note the fine print in the links I attached to each date above (the lostlivedead blog offers a decent argument that the New Riders played a run of shows at the Matrix in 1969 but not conclusive evidence that August 9 was among the show dates, and under the Notes section of the 1974 Merl show, pay attention to the fact that this show was likely played a day or two later, and again, no substantial proof has ever materialized to prove otherwise).
Last but not least:
My wife’s birthday happens to fall on August 9. Since we met, her happiness has always taken precedence over the anniversary of the death of one of my idols. As upsetting as the date once was to me, the fact that the love of my life was born on that same date has changed everything for me. There is positive significance to this date, and I recognize that my life is better because of August 9. You see, my wife is my silver lining of August 9…Jerry was the touch of grey…and we all will get by, and we’ll survive.
And just for fun, I encourage you to read this article.
Have a great day and thanks for reading,
46 responses to “My Silver Lining of the Anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s Passing”
JGB shows in Passaic NJ…w/ merl…what could be better. ah yes, I miss the Jer too. Thanks for the remembrance.
Thanks for reading. He is sorely missed.
Wow, I was shocked that it’s been 17 years. Seems about 7. Congrats on FP!
Thanks. I know, 17 years. Crazy…fingers.
My dad talked about this! its been so so long, and congrats on FP 🙂
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Wow. That is really intense. What a powerful force of nature he was.
Thanks so much. Well said.
Congrat’s on the FP! I think the majority of us always recall exactly where we were when we heard the news.
I have very few regrets, one of them is never seeing a Live/Grateful Dead concert. So, I make up for it by seeing Jimmy B and the Coral Reefers when possible.
The sky it was yellow and the sun it was blue….
Thanks so much. Boat Drinks never hurt. JB and JG were/are kindred spirits…music and good times were/are their driving mission in life. Enjoy it whenever you can.
Awesome post, and great argument for the non-believers to hear. Almost named my boat “Touch of Grey” until someone pointed out that among the population, that phrase is more closely associated with a hair product for men 🙂
Thanks so much. Your comment takes the prize for funniest. I laughed out loud reading it. So true, unfortunately, that the majority of humanity would associate that phrase with hair color…but at least that song had a video with skeletons playing instruments that got some play on MTV. So if ever there was a GD song that had a chance to reach the masses….Thanks for reading.
Next August 9th, I’d go to one of those specialty bakeries and have them bake a a head-size hash brownie in the image and likeness of Jerry, and put 18 candles on it. It would be a fitting tribute to Jerry, and your wife will love you for keeping the number of candles under 40. Jam’n!
I will consider it. Thanks for the rec…and for reading…Every Day, mon.
Saw him with Steve Winwood in the Nevada desert, 113 degrees and a LOT of funshine! What a priceless memory…. Thanks for sharing.
Nice. Must have been hot fun supreme. I am sure Mr. Fantasy was in the house. Thanks for reading.
Most everyone I know remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. Glad so many of us Jerryatric Deadheads are keeping his memory alive.
Thanks for reading Glenn. Keep his memory and message alive.
Jerry was a legend – sorely missed. Loved your piece and the silver lining to the cloud is most touching. Hope your wife had a lovely birthday!
Thanks so much Maxine. Best to you too.
Great tribute to Jerry and The Grateful Dead. I miss him sorely and often wonder what would he be playing now. He was always up for some exploration. When people question why I still listen to the Good Ol’ GD after 40+ years I tell them that if you listen closely there’s always something new – you’ve never heard it all. Well done on making the front page with a Jerry tribute. Spread the word.
Amen. So right you are. Keep listening and keep smiling.
nice write. i saw jerry and the dead a few times back in the day. happily, even once at fillmore west. the new rider’s first LP is still one of my favorites. congrats on the freshly pressed.
Thanks and thanks. Appreciate the good vibes.
Great post. There’s an artist playing out today that reminds me a lot of Jerry Garcia.
His name is Will Oldham, but he performs under the name of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. I suggest you check him out ->
Will do. Thanks for the “heads” up.
It’s a rare thing for people to appreciate good music, as opposed to just what’s “popular” today!
Thanks and best to you.
Jerry once said ” he played music, but the best nights were when the music played him”. Anyone that has seen the Grateful Dead perform live knows this truth and it doesn’t have to be explained. That power, and soul just doesn’t seem to exist any more. They really did have something special and the best part was Jerry never abused that. Bob became a bit of a dick but Jerry never did. R.I.P. Captain Trips, we all miss you. For more inside info. on rock-stars and musicians along with a bunch of other short stories please check out my latest e-book “A Fly on the Wall, A Bartender’s Perspective”, I hope it puts a smile on your face. http://secretsofabartender.wordpress.com/
Thanks so much. Great points, and I will definitely check your e-book out.
Awesome post thanks for sharing!
Keep up the great work.
Have a great day!
Thanks so much. Appreciate your reading.
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Lovely tribute to Jerry … thank you so much… Love, cat (http://catsruledogsdroole,blogspot.com/)
Thanks so much.
RIP Jerry ❤
Thanks for reading. RIP indead [sp?;)].
I was eight years old when Jerry died, so I don’t remember much about that sad day. Nor do I remember much before it occurred. But from then on, I grew up routinely hearing that he was an idol, a hero almost, and that the Grateful Dead were transcendentally awesome and seemed to love rainbow teddy bears (as did my eight year-old self). Hence, I am a Dead Head by descent.
I’m so sad that yesterday came and went without me realizing it was the anniversary of his passing. But I’m so glad I found this post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and thanks for writing this.
Thanks for reading and for the kind words. We are fortunate to live in an era where much of the Dead’s greatness was not only captured on good quality recordings, but also archived and preserved for us and future generations to enjoy. They have left a legacy that will make people like you and me smile for eternity, and for that, we should all be GRATEFUL!
Best Band ever! Thanks for sharing
Thanks for reading.
You are welcome. Thanks for reading.
My Idol Jerry Garcia the greatest singer, guitarist, man and rock God ever created